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Our Team

Our Founders

Richard Rusczyk

Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

Glen Dawson

In 2014, Glen founded a learning center in Morrisville, North Carolina, that two years later became the first AoPS Academy campus. Glen served as the National Director of AoPS Academy until his retirement in 2019. He has experience as a college math professor, statistician, and expert SAS programmer. He has been a professional math tutor for many years, and specializes in training academically-advanced and high-performing math students. Glen is a graduate of Duke University and holds a graduate degree in statistics from Boston University.

David Patrick

Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author or a co-author of 4 AoPS textbooks. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.

Management Staff

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Anatole Ginsberg - Campus Director

Anatole Ginsberg - Campus Director

Anatole is the Campus Director for AoPS Academy Gaithersburg. Having earned an IB Diploma in high school, he went on to pursue a dual BA from Vassar College in mathematics and Chinese. He has been passionate about the exploration of math since he was 13, when he accidentally derived the quadratic formula and realized math was more about logic than numbers. His varied interests have led him to jobs in investor relations, veterinary medicine, daycare, and comedy, but the siren call of math education has always brought him back. Anatole has taught diverse math students in Beijing, New York, and San Diego. He speaks French, Mandarin, and Spanish, and doodles Fibonacci spirals to relax.

Dr. Tedra Osell - Associate Director

Dr. Tedra Osell - Associate Director

Tedra is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg. She has been teaching students of all ages for 20 years. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Washington, an MA from the University of Nebraska, and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis. She’s been a college professor, writer, editor, and full-time mom and has published on topics including eighteenth-century periodicals, twenty-first-century parenting, gifted education, and learning disabilities. Tedra first became acquainted with the Art of Problem Solving as a parent, when her then-middle-school son took an AoPS Online Algebra course. In her free time, she likes hiking, cooking, knitting, and silly cat videos.

Ian Parks - Associate Director

Ian Parks - Associate Director

Math instructor Ian Parks has been excited about math ever since he can remember. He graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 2009 with a BS in information systems and set out to work in the IT field. But Ian quickly grew disillusioned with the dog-eat-dog corporate sphere and began teaching high school math instead. When he isn’t teaching, Ian loves reading science fiction and fantasy, anime, and gaming. He and his wife have a dog named Einstein, a cat named Chester, and a snake named Ninja.

Instructors

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Nasrin Afzal

Nasrin Afzal

Dr. Afzal enjoys sharing her knowledge of math with her students and has also helped train competitors for physics Olympiads. She earned her PhD in physics from Virginia Tech, where she studied equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, and then did postdoctoral research blending math, physics, biology, and computational modeling at George Mason University . Some of her work has yielded new ways of understanding cell signalling and metabolic function in heart muscles. Away from the lab and classroom, Dr. Afzal enjoys gardening, painting, and ice skating.

Kum Akab-A-Sei

Kum Akab-A-Sei

Kum began his teaching career as a tutor of his classmates. The success of his classmates in both class and national exams further motivated him to tutor many more students. Some of these students nicknamed him "Lord of Math" and told him he would make a great teacher. In 1989, he officially became a physics and math teacher in high school in Cameroon, and he is currently a middle school math teacher. Kum is a graduate of Bowie State University and loves to inspire students by provoking their thinking through well formatted questions. He loves teaching gifted students and likes to engage them in mathematical debates. Outside of the classroom, Kum loves soccer.

Jonathon Baker

Jonathon Baker

Jonathon has spent ten years working in various locations teaching mathematics to many diverse students. He has spent most of this time working for the Community College of Baltimore County as an adjunct Professor of Mathematics and Baltimore County Public Schools as a math teacher. He currently holds a Bachelor's degree from Goucher College in mathematics and is working toward his Master's degree. He thoroughly enjoys the field of teaching and working with the kids at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg.

Charles Banks

Charles Banks

Charles teaches language arts at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg. He holds a BA in English education and an MA in English from the State University College of New York at Fredonia. Charles has taught in Maryland and New York for more than twenty years. Outside the classroom, he loves reading, listening to music, watching and playing almost any sport, and spending time with his family.

Jasper Diggs

Jasper Diggs

Jasper joined AoPS Academy in 2017. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees deal with reading specialization in the elementary grades. She has been an educator for the past 15 years: 13 years with Montgomery County Public Schools and 2 years with Okaloosa County in Destin, FL. In 2015, Jasper worked as a reading interventionist for Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR). Since then, she has continued to pursue opportunities that allow her to practice her specialization in reading diagnostics. She currently serves as a reading specialist in the public school system. In her spare time, Jasper loves to read anything suspenseful or quirky, and she shares this love with her monthly book club. She looks forward to instilling a love of reading in her AoPS Academy students!

Dr. Jean Freedman

Dr. Jean Freedman

Jean has a BA in theater from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA and PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience and is an adjunct professor at both The George Washington University and Montgomery College. She is also a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Journal of American Folklore, and other publications. Her latest book, Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love, and Politics, is a biography of the acclaimed American-British folk musician.

Javonna Friend

Javonna Friend

Javonna’s evangelical zeal for good books prompted her to earn her BA in English from Virginia State University. She then earned an MA in English at George Mason University and spent a semester studying British literature in the United Kingdom at Oxford University. As a teacher, Javonna is constantly inspired by her students' progress and enthusiasm and she's committed to advancing their intellectual abilities. Outside of the classroom, Javonna loves exercising and goes to the gym six days a week.

Dr. Brice Gnahore

Dr. Brice Gnahore

Brice loves math and enjoys helping his students understand mathematical concepts. He holds an MS in statistics and a PhD in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University. Brice works as a data analyst at Aviation Week, where he forecasts market demand for aircraft fleet maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO). Brice is fluent in French and Russian, enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and plays soccer and volleyball.

Dr. Mark Helfand

Dr. Mark Helfand

Mark is a retired earth scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Goddard Institute for Space Studies. At GSFC, he researched the Earth’s atmosphere and climate variability, designed and built state-of-the-art models for Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate Simulation, and lectured in outreach programs as a NASA “Ambassador." Mark holds a BS in mathematics from MIT and a PhD in applied mathematics from Cornell University. Mark has taught mathematics and earth science at several universities, and currently is a substitute math and science teacher within the Montgomery County Public School System. He also works as a scientific consultant and independent scientific and technical editor.

Dr. Alessandra King

Dr. Alessandra King

Alessandra is an astrophysicist by training, with a PhD in physics from the University of Milan. She has over 15 years of experience teaching mathematics at several local schools. She was Director of the Mathematics department at Green Hedges School in Vienna, VA for over 7 years, and currently teaches middle and high school level mathematics at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda.

Dr. John Klinger

Dr. John Klinger

Dr. Klinger learned to love good math teaching as a student at Brooklyn Technical High School, where he got to be in classes with Mr. Glaubiger, Dr. Rich, and Mr. Klein. Dr. Klinger later earned a PhD in physics at Cornell, worked at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab for a few years, and spent the rest of his career developing aircraft software. Now retired from full-time work, Dr. Klinger still enjoys using the math that he learned in high school. After finding out about the math curriculum offered at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg, he leapt at the opportunity to be a part of this program.

Gil Laqui

Gil Laqui

Gil has twenty years of teaching experience in mathematics in both public and private schools. He has a BSE and a BS in mathematics with specialization in actuarial science and statistics from De La Salle University, Manila. Gil has coached many students for various math and robotics competitions, including the team that won the 2017 Robotics Skills and Team Awards in Washington, DC.

Katherine Lin

Katherine Lin

Math instructor Katherine got her start sharing her love of STEM with students more than a decade ago, as a volunteer mentor with DC Public Schools. Quickly recognizing the need for more teachers who could help students love math and science, she went on to earn a Masters of Secondary Education at Johns Hopkins University. Katherine has taught astronomy, chemistry, and physics, as well as test prep for math, science, reading, and writing on national and local exams. In her free time, she often finds herself wondering just how many Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, and Airheads she has shared with her students on assessment days.

Hui Su Loo

Hui Su Loo

Su has loved math ever since she was little and first experienced the joy of solving a problem. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and a Master’s in math education from Western Governors University in Utah. Su has spent the last five years teaching middle and high school math in both public and private schools in Baltimore and Washington, DC. She especially likes discussing problem-solving strategies with her students. In her spare time, Su loves painting, trying out new recipes, and taking long walks in the park.

Ella Mihailescu, PhD

Ella Mihailescu, PhD

Math instructor Ella believes that success begins with a firm foundation in math and logical thinking. She is a biophysics researcher at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology research in Rockville. Ella uses experimental methods to observe the structure of biological molecules, research that may one day help drug developers design better treatments. She holds an MSc in physics from the University of Bucharest in Romania and a PhD in physical chemistry from Munster University in Germany. Away from the lab, Ella also teaches college students how to use laboratory techniques.

Songying Mo

Songying Mo

Songying loves math and science! He earned Bachelor’s degrees in math and chemistry from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he sometimes delivered the lectures in calculus classes. Songying works in the biopharmaceutical industry and dreams of earning a Master’s degree in biostatistics. Away from work, he enjoys rock climbing and spending time with his pets.

Yvonne O’Neill

Yvonne O’Neill

Yvonne O’Neill currently teaches first and second grades and directs the After-Care Program at Gaithersburg's The Avalon School. A graduate of Washington College, Yvonne also holds an MS in public relations from The American University. She has served as a substitute teacher and first-grade teacher assistant at Bethesda's St. Jane de Chantal School. Yvonne began her formal teaching career at Bradley Hills Pre-school and also taught at the Holton Arms Creative Summer Program. She and her husband Tom live in Bethesda with a selection of their sons. In her free time, Yvonne puts her heart and energy into her growing family.

Phil Rennert

Phil Rennert

Phil is a semi-retired research engineer in information science, in the overall business of extracting wisdom from information overload. He specializes in machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, and statistics. Earlier Phil worked for NASA, doing Space Shuttle guidance and control and satellite orbit determination. Phil's teaching experience includes remedial math instruction for college freshmen and volunteering for Mathcounts. Phil is an alumnus of MIT's high school studies program, and has a BA in math from Yale and an MA in applied math from NYU.

Michael Seablom

Michael Seablom

Math instructor Mike Seablom’s passion for math comes from studying the weather. He has spent the past thirty years deriving numerical algorithms to improve data assimilation for weather prediction and climate forecasting, both for the government and in the private sector. Mike has also derived methods to manipulate and display Earth science data. He holds a BS in meteorology from Florida State University, an MBA in management technology from Georgia Tech, and an MS in atmospheric sciences from Purdue University (where he led the department’s tornado chase team).

Ben Stone

Ben Stone

Ben Stone is an experienced high school math teacher who has assisted in many of Art of Problem Solving Online classes, from Prealgebra to Calculus. He also has extensive experience teaching math competition classes. As a high-school student, Ben was a three-time AIME participant and placed second in the Oregon Invitational Math Tournament for high school students. Ben holds a BS in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and an MS in mathematics from the University of Washington. Ben also develops elementary-school math content for Art of Problem Solving's Beast Academy Online.

Darius Summers

Darius Summers

Darius began teaching at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg in 2018. He is adept at motivating students and creating inspiring, yet disciplined, learning environments that establish a firm foundation for lifelong learning. Currently a Master Training Specialist in the United States Navy, Darius is pursuing his PhD in education from Notre Dame of Maryland University. He also holds a BS in health science from California's Trident University International and an MBA in healthcare management from the University of Texas at Tyler. In addition, Darius completed courses in applied science and engineering studies at Michigan Technological University. He is a member of both the National Society of Leadership and Success and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.

Vicki Wu

Vicki Wu

Vicki started teaching math at AoPS Academy Gaithersburg in 2018. She holds a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MS in chemistry from Bradley University, and works for the Department of Commerce as a Patent Examiner, where she assesses the technical validity of engineering patents. Vicki and her husband live in Gaithersburg, where she enjoys teaching the basics of math, coding, violin, piano, and Mandarin to their two children. Vicki loves showing her students that math is fun!

Joyce Yang

Joyce Yang

Joyce earned her BS in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, after participating in several high school math competitions, including the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) and American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME). She is passionate about math education, having graded for Art of Problem Solving Online courses since 2011, and also has experience in math and statistics research.

Dr. James Zhu

Dr. James Zhu

Dr. Zhu graduated from Fudan University with a BS in mathematics in January 1982 at age 19 and graduated from Cornell University with a Ph.D in operations research (Applied Probability and Statistics concentration) in 1989. He was a faculty member at the Fudan Math Department from 1982-1985 and a faculty member at George Washington University and the State University of New York at Buffalo for 5 years where he supervised MS and Ph.D students before joining the telecom industry in 1994. Dr. Zhu has always had a passion for teaching. More recently, he taught part-time at the University of Texas at Dallas and tutored middle school, high school, college and graduate school students. After retiring from a successful telecom career, he has been full time focusing on tutoring AP Calculus, AP Statistics, SAT and Mathematics competition (Mathcount, AMC8 etc) for middle school students. In his spare time, he likes playing cards and fishing.

"Our homeschooled son is extremely gifted in math and science.  He really feels at home at AoPS Academy.  Through coaching and personal attention at AoPS, he achieved a 5 in AP Calculus at 11 years old and a 4 in AP Statistics at 12.  He also achieved an 800 on SAT II math at 12 years old.  Our son feels very comfortable in the atmosphere of AoPS, where being gifted in math is not looked down on, but treated with respect.  He has truly found his peers at AoPS Academy. 

AoPS Academy allows my son to be himself, learn that there are other kids well advanced in math, and gives him the confidence to know that it is OK to be great in math, and that other people will respect and value his ability."

-Neil D.
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